Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

....and I mean that! Honestly, there were moments in this last year that I felt so pressed, so burned, so tired. So, with excitement, the beginning of this new year marks a comforting change for me.

When it comes to my own struggles or challenges I tend to be a more quiet reserved person. So, for many, it could be surprising that I would even admit that this year wasn't easy for me. Of course, I also had many highlights from this year. Most changed my life and will be a bookmarking highlight I will remember for the REST of my life. Even in the mist of some incredibly low points, I also had life-changing high points this year.

Damascus Gate into Jerusalem!
I spent the beginning of this year in Israel with my amazing husband, Sean Feucht, and some other Burn 24-7 fam. The trip was amazing! ...life changing! Israel marked me forever, with a new passion and a zeal for the things of God. I can not trade that in for the world! I'm thankful for beginning this past year strong, encouraged, blossoming into the person I was created to be. I needed that for what was up ahead for me and my family.
When I look at this past year I am truly amazed! I'm not just amazed, I'm literally in WONDER!

Here is a quick look:
- Traveled everywhere bringing GOOD NEWS!: Israel, Ireland, all over the U.S.: Harrisburg and Philidephia PA, Detroit MI, Kansas City MO, San Franscisco CA, Austin TX, Salem MA, Washington D.C., and all over New York!
Burn 24-7 Ireland Crew!
 

Brandon's pinning ceremony
- Pioneered a house church, finishing the garage and turned it into an epic worship center! ...and taking more of an assertive role in discipling others.
- Mobilized Burn 24-7's on college campuses in Rochester, NY in conjunction to continuing to meet the last weekend of every month for 12 hours of non-stop worship and prayer.
 
- Brandon finished and graduated school in registered nursing!
- Spoke and lead worship with Syracuse Women's Aglow
Burn Leadership Summit
 
- Took all our Burn leadership on a summit and discipleship retreat.
 
- Was able to partner in worship with our first prophetic conference in Mercy, NY.
 
- Partnered with Burn Buffalo and Burn Syracuse.
Live CD Recording
- Finished and produced our FIRST worship album!
 
Needless to say, this year has been eventful, busy and fruitful! For that, I count the blessings of this pass year with the Lord with such gratitude in my heart! He has truly proved His faithfulness over and over again! And He doesn't need to or even have to...but He does, just because He WANTS to! His love is over-whelming and I wouldn't be who I am today a part from that Truth.
But without challenges, there are no victories. And without struggles, there is no conquering. And without sorrow, there is no rejoicing. And though the fruifulness of this year is something to rejoice over, it was also one of my most sorrowful years. In the process of building community and pursuing the heart of God for people, the Lord has been teaching me so much pertaining to love and forgiveness, and what it really means to lay your life down for your friend. In the process, I had many heartaches this year. The Lord has been teaching me how to deal with offenses in a healthy way and how to trust Him in every friendship. True friendship is risky. It requires all of our heart. It's easy in the process of our past experiences to build walls around our heart to protect ourselves, but the Lord broke these walls in my heart for the good.....so that I could truly know what it means to love my brother...my sister....through the most toughest circumstances.
In addition to growing in this, the Lord has also been challenging me to give everything for the sake of the gospel....including my own home. Because we are a house church we have {high} traffic in our home all the time. And though many have tried to convince us of doing things differently, we just can't. We don't open our home because we feel like its good Christian duty, or we score brownie points with Jesus. We do it because the gospel is about giving, serving and loving. We want to be an expression of all that the gospel is. In the process I have learned so much about what it means to give cheerfully. Just in this past year alone our home as been infested with {thousands} of flies and maggots, mice, and roaches (on two seperate occassions). The cleaning, the bathroom supplies, the cleaning, the food, the cleaning, the long nights, the cleaning, the amount of coffee, ...oh, and the cleaning. ;-) I'm venting (only a little). But the Lord challenged me, because everytime I scrub a toilet, a spilled drink, or cleaning out a basket that someone threw their food in thinking it was trash, I remember that this is worship. This is being the aroma of Christ to those who are both saved and to those who are not. I'm am mother in the Kingdom, just as I am in the physical. This is an honor.
This year has also been one of the hardest years for me physically. I had an infection in my teeth the first part of the year. When asked to get a root canal I felt like the Lord wanted me to trust him and not proceed. In return, he healed me :) In the Spring when we were in California, I broke my ankle....really bad. I wasn't able to walk for 9 weeks. I remember trying to carry my 6 month old baby on all fours while dragging myself across the living room floor. I couldn't even cook for my family. And because my husband was in full-time school and working I had little help. I'm so thankful for those in our community that did sacrifice their time by taking me to appointments, keeping me company, bringing me a meal, or just taking the girls outside to play. My mother in law came the latter part of it and I was so thankful. There were many tears in this season and I am forever thankful for those who came and served my family during it all.
 
 
This leads me to the hardest  of things....having my husband gone all the time. I'm so proud of him and what he did while he was in school. It wasn't easy, for either of us. He gave more than he was able because of the grace of God on His life. I personally hate when people say "....well...ya know. God only gives you what you can handle." That's a bunch of hoax if you ask me, and unbiblical. In fact, I think we're created for immortality and He DOES give us more than we can handle just so He can prove His faithfulness, His POWER and His supernatural grace in us! But I would be lying if I said it was always hunky dorey. There were many days I struggled. I wanted help with our girls. We only had one vehicle, so there were other days I would just crave getting out of the house. And because he wasn't available to help with the admin gear for the house church, Burn 24-7 or City to City, I spent a lot of time trying to keep up with admin stuff in addition to being with the children, which by the way was a full time job in and of itself. Many times I felt congested by responsibilities and simply trying to survive. I know thats not what God wanted for me, so I would spend much of my time with the Lord basking in His presence, meditating and receiving fresh supernatural strength. I didn't feel swamped all the time. In fact, it was during this season I did a longated fast where precious hours and memorable experiences were made with the Lord in the morning before my children would even awake. Still, priceless.....and I wouldn't trade it for the most difficult of seasons.
 
Our family pics of 2012
So much has changed just in this past week alone. And something I have observed as well is the growth in my children. Abigail (who just turned 4) has a remarkable relationship with the Lord. She hears Him, dreams with Him, sings to Him. The beauty blossoming out of her is absolutely breath-taking! And its not my doing! She just told me the other day that Jesus gave her a new tongue! Amazing! The Lord is simply calling them, each by name, and they are responding! Its wonderful! Israel (who turns 3 this month) loves to dance for Him. I mean, she can't stop! And there is such adandonment on her when she dances. Arista (whose 17 months) is a presence junkie! She loves worship and she literally becomes alive when we worship together! This is a mystery! Our family has been marked this season. And though difficult and challenging, I am forever changed by its mark.....in a good way. Brandon is a new man....He is even more true to his word, more in love with His Beloved, more in love with people, more selfless, more compassionate, less self-serving, more merciful and when I look at him I literally see the eyes of my Savior. He is my hero. He was always encouraging me, always affirming me, always telling me how amazing I am. As my cheerleader, it was because of his love that I knew we would make it.....and we would make it out strong. Even when we would hear about people spreading rumors, or making presumptious about us as a couple or even as a ministry....he would always would shake the dust off. He never let it get to him. He was an inspiration.
Thursday night Covenant Home Community Church
And to all our Burn fam, and our Covenant Home community, you are a gift from God to us. Thank you for all your love, your support, your encouraging words to us. When we always needed it most, you pushed us to keep going. I am forever grateful for good, faithful friends. They are priceless gifts that are rarer than the finest gems. When you find them, appreciate 'em, thank God for them, and let them know you value them. This has truly been a year of turning for us and I am in tears of joy for the lasting and eternal fruit that was brought out in this past year.
With that, Happy New Year - to a fresh year of experiencing and knowing God, and to the merry new wine that we get to drink every day in it! This year is about not looking back. Once we put our hand to the plow, we don't look back, we only move forward! This is what it means to be a disciple. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Lets embark on this year together with Him!

Endless Love,
Brandon and Crystal J

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